Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

Lack of exercise linked to increased risk of severe COVID-19

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This article showed up in my in-box this morning. It seems my renewed resolution regarding walking is well timed. (Stats from this morning: 3.911 miles, 1 hr 10 min, 3.36 mph, 7570 steps, 107.0 steps/minute. Goal is a walk of 8000 steps, which I aim to achieve within a week.)

Jane Thornton (Clinician Scientist, Canada Research Chair in Injury Prevention and Physical Activity for Health, Sport Medicine Physician, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University) and Jane Yuan (MSc Candidate, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Western University) write in The Conversation about the importance of exercise for good health — and I’ll note that one of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen is

Exercise — Once per day; 90 min. moderate or 40 min. vigorous

The article begins:

Recent research suggests that consistently meeting physical activity guidelines may reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes such as hospitalization, ICU admission and death. These findings should encourage physicians and other health care providers worldwide to talk to patients about physical activity — which has been a primary focus for our lab.

As promising as results from these and other similar studies are, an important question remains: Are we making life-saving physical activity accessible for the people who need it most?

Physical activity for all

Statistics Canada’s data on Canadian COVID-19 deaths in 2020 reported at least one comorbidity present in 90 per cent of all COVID-19-related deaths (including younger age groups). A comorbidity is a disease or condition that a patient has at the same time as another illness. Many of the most common comorbid conditions on the list — including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes — are linked to physical inactivity.

The list of the most frequent comorbidities is a sign that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in our society. It is also an urgent call to change the story now to protect each other and build a healthier, more resilient Canada.

As a part of prevention and treatment of these comorbid conditions that put people at greater risk, access to physical activity for all must play a central part in this change. Physicians and other health care providers can play a part by prescribing physical activity, facilitating access and measuring outcomes.

Social determinants

The reality faced by so many — especially within disadvantaged populations — is that engaging in physical activity is not as simple as it sounds. To be successful, any push for widespread adoption of physical activity to treat and prevent disease must consider the context of individual lives and experiences.

Social determinants of health, specifically socio-economic status, dictate an individual’s ability to be physically active. High-income earners have the resources to lead more active lifestyles and reap the benefits of physical activity while lower-income earners do not.

A single mother working multiple low-wage jobs, for example, may not have the extra resources or leisure time to prioritize physical activity. Low-income neighbourhoods are often characterized by a lack of access to parks and green space. They may also have higher levels of crime, which may make people feel unsafe going outside to exercise.

Given the increased barriers and extra restrictions implemented during the pandemic, physical activity has become much more inaccessible for low-income communities. That may, in turn, place vulnerable populations at a higher risk of severe COVID-19-related complications.

Protecting everyone’s health means addressing barriers that contribute to the widening gap between the advantaged and disadvantaged, including systemic barriers affecting equity-deserving populations such as women, racialized and Indigenous peoples.

Addressing access

Habitual physical activity protects against adverse COVID-19 outcomes, but meeting the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology’s physical activity guidelines is unattainable for a large portion of the population. Now, more than ever, there is a need to address social inequalities and facilitate participation in physical activity through things like parks, access to facilities and active transport like walking and biking.

Policies, resources and support must consider the impact of socioeconomic factors that limit an individual’s opportunity to exercise. Interventions should aim to avoid exacerbating systemic inequalities, and promote health and well-being for all, including in low socioeconomic communities.

One example of supporting physical activity at the community level is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2021 at 10:16 am

Flowers and a walk

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I’ve found a good route my walk and I’m settling into it. Today’s walk took 1 hr 1 min 14 sec: 6623 steps at a pace of 108.2 steps/min and a total of 3.581 miles, so 3.51 mph. My pace today was quicker and my speed greater than yesterday, but today I walked a slightly shorter distance. (Yesterday I had a detour where the sidewalk was blocked, and that added 340 feet to yesterday’s route.)

I walked by these flowers and was moved to take a photo. And a couple of days ago I posted a photo of a tree that Seek could not identify, so today I took more photos of it at Seek’s direction.

Seek (quoting Wikipedia) tells me this is a Buddleja davidii (spelling variant Buddleia davidii), also called summer lilac, butterfly-bush, or orange eye, and is native to China and Japan. More at the link.

Click any image to get a slide show, and right-click on any slide to open image in a new tab; click it there to enlarge it.

Written by Leisureguy

3 August 2021 at 1:17 pm

First week of resumed walking

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Today wraps up my first week back at walking. I am using my Nordic walking poles — more exercise with no perceptible increase in effort, but more important more enjoyable than walking without them, plus using them greatly improves my walking posture. In addition, using them results in greater stride length and faster pace, so I finish quicker.

My morning walk today was 3617 steps in 33 min 33 seconds, so about 108 steps/minute. According to my odometer app it was 1.86 miles. I picked up additional steps today running some errands — all to the good, but without benefit of the Nordic walking poles.

As I get in better shape, walk will get a little longer. Target is about a one-hour walk, which in the past has been about 3.8 miles.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2021 at 6:52 pm

Walkies are coming along

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This morning I had an early walk because the forecast is for a hot day. I did 1.86 miles in 33 min 33 seconds, 3617 steps (so about 108 steps/minute, a good cadence, producing a speed of 3.32 mph — though 5.3 kph sounds better.

What, I wonder, is the internal mechanism that makes some decisions snap into place and lock, while other decisions are loosely held with a lot of play and break free easily? The walking, this time, seems to be one of the locking decisions, at least for now.

Written by Leisureguy

30 July 2021 at 9:26 am

A flower, a tree, a walk

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I took a new route: 3623 steps, just over half an hour. The latter part of the week is forecast to be hot, but I’ll try to get out early to beat the heat.

Written by Leisureguy

28 July 2021 at 1:21 pm

Modest walk, with trees

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Just 3030 steps, but at this point consistency is more important than distance or duration. The two trees at the left have the dooping branches that I seem to like. Bottom right is a stout little tree that when freshly trimmed looks like an ornament. Click any image to get a slide show, and right-click on any slide to open image in a new tab; click it there to enlarge it. 

Written by Leisureguy

26 July 2021 at 3:18 pm

Short walk

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Too many days spent sitting has greatly lowered my energy reserves, so again I take to the sidewalks with walking poles. 3000 steps — I’m starting slow — and some nice plants along the way.

Click any image to get a slide show, and right-click on any slide to open image in a new tab; click it there to enlarge it.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2021 at 1:43 pm

Why Crash Weight Loss Programs Don’t Work: Clues From Hunter-Gatherer Societies

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Changing the analogy of how the body uses calories from an engine to a business is highly illuminating. John Henning Schumann reports at NPR:

It’s an eternal question: What diet is best for weight loss? Or, what should we eat (or avoid) to stay healthy?

Devotees of paleo or keto will talk your ear off about why their diet is the most sensible. People choosing vegan diets (no animal products, including dairy) make a compelling case for both personal and global health.

Herman Pontzer, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University, argues that human metabolism has evolved to the point where how we eat and expend our calories is more important than all of our collective obsession with what to eat.

In his new bookBurn: New Research Blows the Lid Off How We Really Burn Calories, Stay Healthy and Lose Weight, Pontzer breaks down the science of metabolism and shares tales from his work studying caloric expenditure among hunter-gatherer societies.

One of the most startling findings is the notion of constrained daily energy expenditure. This is the idea that the human metabolism adapts to our activity levels to keep our daily calorie burn in a surprisingly narrow range — no matter how hard you work out. But don’t let that depressing fact hold you back from the gym — it’s crucial that you still get daily exercise for weight maintenance and overall health.

This interview with Pontzer is adapted from an interview for Public Radio Tulsa’s Medical Monday program and has been edited for length and clarity.

In your book you debunk the common metaphor we use for caloric expenditure — an engine or a machine. You say it would be more accurate to compare it to running a business. Why is that?

The engine view gets a few things right. We put fuel into our bodies in the form of food. And we do burn it off in all the tasks that our body does, the way that an engine burns fuel.

But an engine, like the engine in your car, doesn’t get to decide how it burns the fuel. A car’s energy burn is all about how hard you step on the gas pedal. Your body isn’t like that. Your body is more like a business, as it has an overall goal like any business does. The overall goal of your body is to survive and reproduce, because that’s what every organism has evolved to do. But there are many parts and pieces and departments that are in the service of that overall goal.

In a business you have finance, sales, human resources and security and everything else. It’s the same with your body. You’ve got all these different organ systems that all work together. And like a business, when income is low, you can juggle things around. So you spend less on this or that task. And when things are good, you can ramp up the energy that you spend on different tasks. And so that kind of juggling or prioritization that businesses do is the same that your body can do with how it spends calories.

One fallacy with the engine model of calorie burning is we think, OK, I’ve got to burn more calories than I take in, either by eating less or exercising more or both. But as you point out, the metabolism adjusts, and it becomes harder to lose weight. So even though exercise isn’t really a great weight-loss strategy, it’s still very important for your overall health, right?

That’s exactly right. If you’re more physically active, eventually you don’t burn more calories a day, but you change the way your calories are spent. If you spend your calories on exercise, what that means is you’re spending fewer calories on other tasks.

And for most of us, that’s a really good thing, because if we spend less energy, for example, on inflammation, we reduce our inflammation levels. If we spend less energy on stress reactivity, for example, our cortisol levels don’t go up as high and our adrenaline levels don’t go up as high, we achieve lower levels of stress response. And it seems that that exercise might also help keep testosterone for men or estrogen levels for women at a slightly healthier level. So that adjustment, that metabolic adjustment that we make is one of the reasons exercise is so good for us.

You’ve done extensive research with modern-day hunter-gatherers, like the Hadza people of Tanzania to better understand how human metabolism works. What did you learn?

The Hadza, to this day, don’t have any domesticated crops or animals or machines or guns or electricity or anything like that. They live in grass houses in the open savanna in northern Tanzania. And every morning they wake up and women are off to get plant foods, such as berries and tubers. The men go off to hunt for a wild game using bow and arrow.

For somebody like me who studies how humans evolved, a community like that is just an invaluable way to ask what hunting and gathering does to our bodies. Because we humans evolved over millennia as a hunting and gathering species. And yes — in a population like that, food can be scarce sometimes. And you’re always spending lots of energy on physical activity. So your body really has to be good at prioritizing how it spends its calories.

The Hadza walk everywhere they go, and compared to us, are seldom sedentary. I’d assume they burn significantly more calories than we do in a day. Yet surprisingly, your work shows that their metabolism isn’t all that different from the average American.

About 10 years ago, we went and measured how many calories men and women in the Hadza community burn every day. The Hadza are so physically active, we’d expect that their total calories burned every day would be much higher than we see in the U.S. and Europe and other industrialized populations. And instead, what we found was that actually, even though men are getting 19,000 steps today, women are getting 13,000 steps a day on top of all the other work they do, they aren’t burning more total calories every day than we are in the West.

Physical activity ends up being another one of those things that the body can juggle and adjust. And so in the same way that your body can adjust to changes in your food environment, your body can adjust to changes in your physical activity. So for the Hadza, their “metabolic business” has adjusted so that they spend less on other body systems to make room for that big physical activity workload that they have.

What does this mean for someone who is trying to lose weight today?

If you or I started an exercise program tomorrow, we will burn extra calories from that exercise for a while. But after a couple of months, our bodies will adjust so that we’re spending about the same energy every day as we were before we started the exercise. Your body adjusts how it spends its energy to keep the total calories burned every day within a relatively narrow range. It just speaks to how adaptable and flexible our bodies are and how we’re not really in charge of our metabolisms the way we think.

You include a section in the book about the TV show The Biggest Loser in which contestants competed to see who could lose the most weight. What was the problem with that? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 July 2021 at 9:43 am

A 3-minute neck exercise routine to improve flexibility

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This looks good to me.

Written by Leisureguy

3 July 2021 at 10:28 am

5 exercises toward minimum daily requirement

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I do not exercise enough — not just not enough walking, but also not enough weight-training. I found this article by Tim Liu, C.S.C.S. (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), to be of interest — enough interest that I might undertake it. He writes:

Just as strength training is the single best exercise you can do after turning 50, I can tell you that the same goes for your 60s. Don’t just take it from me, though. Take from some trainers who are over 60 themselves.

“Many individuals over the age of 60 forget about lifting weights—or think that they can’t build muscle as they age—but that’s just not true,” Valerie Hurst, 61, an FAI-Certified Trainer & Certified Brain Health Trainer, explained to us at ETNT Mind+Body. “By strength training at least two days per week to your exercise routine, you can avoid loss of muscle, and thus stay independent longer by maintaining your strength and balance.”

She’s correct. And as you enter your 60s, you’ll find that a new vocabulary starts to emerge when you talk about exercise. Words like “speed” and “huge gains” start to disappear, while words like “mobility” and “stability”—basic functions you need for a better quality of life well into old age—start to emerge.

In order to age well, I believe that, in addition to walking and stretching—and doing any sort of activities that will keep you on your feet, from gardening to playing golf—you need to partake in at least two to three days per week of basic strength training that targets your entire body. I’m talking about exercise moves that will make your muscles stronger, while also promoting better balance, posture, core strength, stability, and mobility.

In fact, I’d urge you to consider the following workout every day you do strength training. These are five movements that accomplish literally everything I just described. Just remember: Perform 3-4 sets of the following exercises, using the reps noted. And for some exercises to avoid, don’t miss this list of The Worst Exercises You Can Do After 60.

1. Dumbbell Goblet Squat (10-15 reps) . . .

Read the whole thing. Exercises are well-illustrated.

Written by Leisureguy

2 July 2021 at 12:06 pm

A shorter walk

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The first photo is of a droopy tree. I like droopy trees. Third photo is another palm flower, this one more spectacular than the one in front of my building. Only 5500 steps so far today. I figure it’ll be three more weeks of daily walking before I start to reap the energy benefits.

Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2021 at 4:09 pm

Walking vs. fasting blood glucose

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I resumed daily walks on 6 June — normally, I don’t walk on Sunday, but since I hadn’t been doing any real walking, I figured I should just start.

I noticed an immediate effect on by fasting blood glucose levels, which I graphed for that first week: steps each day and fasting blood glucose level the next day.

And you can see from last week’s steps-per-day chart, I wasn’t really doing all that many steps — I wanted to ramp up gradually. Still, I was using Nordic walking poles, which increase calorie burn by 20% (with no perceptible increase in effort, an attribute I like).

What surprises me is the impact the walking has had on my average fasting blood glucose readings. As of this morning (June 15), here’s what the averages look like:

These readings are all still in the “pre-diabetic” range, but observe the trend. (The readings in mg/dL, the measure commonly used in the US: 103, 106, 108, 114 mg/dL.)

My goal is to get all the averages below 5.5 mmol/L (99 mg/dL). That would be comfortably within the normal range.

Of course, this result is not due solely to exercise, since diet also plays a major role. I’m convinced that my whole-food non-animal diet is also essential. But (as the figures show) diet alone is insufficient. Exercise also is required, and I believe aerobics exercise (Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s term), or cardio exercise — sustained exercise — works best. I’ll continue Nordic walking, and I’ll soon be doing 1-hour walks, 6 days a week.

Written by Leisureguy

15 June 2021 at 10:32 am

6426 steps with flowers and a frog

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A nice walk, and I cleverly put out a bowl of frozen mixed berries before I left so I’d have a treat on my return. I like droopy trees, like the one at the start of the fourth row. The leftmost picture on the bottom row shows an odd plant. I thought initially it was two plants, but I think the two are one.  Enlarge and see what you think. Note the tendrils growing from the vertical narrow cones.

Click any image to get a slide show, and right-click on any slide to open image in a new tab; click it there to enlarge it.

Written by Leisureguy

14 June 2021 at 4:02 pm

Holding diet constant, increasing exercise — look at what happens to fasting blood glucose

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Starting last Sunday I resumed my Nordic walking. My fasting blood glucose, as I mentioned in an earlier post, held steady (in the “pre-diabetic” range) for three days, and then dropped into the normal range (a fasting BG reading of 5.5 mmol/L (99 mg/dL) or less). In fact, the past 3 days my readings have been 5.4, 5.3, and 5.2 (in mmol/L — in mg/dL, that’s 97, 95, and 94).

Obviously, my fasting blood glucose cannot continue dropping (or I’m in serious trouble), nor will the number of steps per day monotonically increase. For one thing, I don’t walk on Sundays as a rule (last Sunday was an exception), and once I get to 8000 I’ll level out since I see no need to go beyond that. (The 10,000 step guideline was a marketing ploy by Japanese pedometer manufacturers.)

But even in this short sample, I’m impressed by the impact that exercise (Nordic walking) has made. It certainly wasn’t due to diet, since I held my (whole-food plant-only) diet steady — and indeed, I’ve kept my fasting blood glucose readings relatively low (though still in the “pre-diabetic” range) simply by diet. But to get to the next level — readings in the “normal” range — exercise is clearly required.

I’ll go one more day to complete the week. It was a good experiment.

Written by Leisureguy

12 June 2021 at 9:41 am

Type 2 diabetics: Diet modification PLUS walking has helped me

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Some things I have to relearn. I have type 2 diabetes, and I can keep it under control if I do the right things. I found that modifying my diet was necessary but not sufficient. Getting good control also requires exercise (Nordic walking for me), and I believe cardio exercise — what Kenneth Cooper called “aerobics” — is the best approach from a health perspective, though certainly resistance training (for muscular strength) is a good complement.

I first changed my diet to a low-carb high-fat diet — not excessively high fat, just enough additional fat to make up the calories lost by reducing carbs, the idea being not to increase the protein level but keep it moderate. So if net carbs are reduced by 100g, fat is increased by 45g — the same caloric amount.

But after I learned of various health risks of a low-carb diet and that saturated fat increases insulin resistance, I took another look at my diet and did more reading and research. It was then that I read Michael Greger’s How Not to Die, which discusses what we know about the relationship between diet and chronic diseases from scientific studies. In Part 2 of the book, he recommends a diet based on that research, and that’s the diet I adopted.

His recommended diet is what I call a “whole-food plant-only” diet, though I also include fungi (as pesudo-plants). That means no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs (though on rare occasions I’ll have a modest amount for one meal). No meat, fish, dairy, or eggs is the same as a vegan diet, but the other restriction — whole foods — means that I avoid refined foods (refined sugar, flour, fruit juice — whole fruit is fine — and so on) and also avoid highly processed foods that are manufactured using industrial methods from refined ingredients and various additives (preservatives, coloring, flavors, and so on — usually with substantial salt and refined sugar). The vegan diet does not preclude those, though of course some vegans do avoid them and in fact follow a whole-food plant-only diet, even though the vegan diet per se does allow for refined and highly processed foods so long as they are free of animal products — and indeed a supermarket will often have a fairly large section of highly processed vegan food products.

My blood glucose readings improved remarkably on that diet, and when I also included exercise (Nordic walking is what I like), things got even better. But winter came, walking faded, and my fasting blood glucose readings slowly drifted up — my 90-day average right now is 6.4 mmol/L (115 mg/dL).

This past Sunday I started walking again.  My daily step counts starting last Sunday June 6: 2288, 2861, 3995, 4564, 4660, and 5527 steps per day — and my fasting blood glucose readings for the following days, starting Monday: 6.3, 6.3, 6.5, 5.4, 5.3, and 5.2 mmol/L. That is pretty convincing to me. Walking did seem to make a big difference (after a startup lag). The last three readings — 5.4 mmol/L = 97 mg/dL, 5.3 mmol/L = 95 mg/dL, and 5.2 mmol/L = 94 mg/dL — are well within “normal.” (“Pre-diabetic” starts at 5.6 mmol/L (101 mg/dL), and 7.0 mmol/L (126 mg/dL) is the starting point for “diabetic.” Update: See graph below, which I’ll continue to update for a while.

It seems that after four days of walking (gradually increasing the distance), the exercise effect kicked in and — with my diet staying constant — my fasting blood glucose dropped back to where it should be. I see I must walk.

Luckily, I live in a good neighborhood for walking. And it’s also lucky I enjoy the foods included in my diet (and enjoy cooking).

Written by Leisureguy

11 June 2021 at 11:05 am

4700 steps and a grandson graduates from high school — a good day

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Baltimore School for the Arts, which draws students from across the city. Good weather save for cicadas. And the walks do seem to have an effect on blood glucose. No change in diet, and the fasting reading this morning was 5.4 mmol/L (97 mg/dL).

Written by Leisureguy

10 June 2021 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness, Health

4600 Steps and Saan Choy

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Another walk, and though I did see some nice-looking plants, I wanted to get back because it’s time to cook a new batch of greens, and I have a big bunch of saan choy, which is the Cantonese name. Another name is Malabar spinach, but in fact it’s related to cactus and purslane, not to spinach:

Ceylon / Indian / Surinam / Chinese / Vietnamese Spinach; Broad Bologi, Poi Baagi, Calaloo, Buffalo Spinach; Mong Toi (Viet); Paag-Prung, Phak plang yai, phalpang (Thai); Phakkang, Pak pang (Laos); Alugbati, Dundula, Grana, Libato (Philippines); Niviti (Sri Lanka); Gendola, Remayong, Tembayung (Malay); Genjerot, Jingga, Gendola (Indonesia); Saan Choy (Cantonese); Shan Tsoi, Luo Kai, Shu Chieh, Lo Kwai (China); Poi (India); Pui Shak (Bengali); Kodip PasaLi (Tamil); Tsuru Murasa Kai (Japan); Amunututu (Yoruba); Gborongi (Igbo); Basella alba]

Not related to regular spinach but rather to cactus and purslane (order Caryophyllales (Carnations)), this plant has a flavor vaguely similar to spinach, but more earthy and much milder due to low oxalic acid content. The leaves are thick, almost succulent, and actually quite filling. One cultivar, “Rubra”, has red stems.

While regular spinach is a cool temperate plant which doesn’t like the tropics at all, Malabar Spinach is a tropical vine. A fast growing perennial, it is harvested continuously by cutting new growth. It can be grown as an annual in warmer temperate regions.

An important note, which stirred me to cook it tonight:

This plant does not store well in the fridge and should be used within 2 days.


I used my All-Clad Stainless for this because I knew I would be adding vinegar to the hot pan — if I use cast iron, that would strip the seasoning. Into the pan go:

• 1.5 Tbsp EVOO
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• about 5 oz homemade soybean tempeh, diced
• pinch of salt
• sprinkling of crushed red pepper
• multiple grindings black cumin seed

Sauté that over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When onions turn translucent, add:

• 1 bag saan choy/Malabar spinach, rinsed and chopped
• good dash tamari
• about 3 Tbsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar

Cook for a few minutes, stirring off and on. Note from the article linked above:

For stir fries and the like, cook as for regular spinach, in just a little oil. Free water on the leaves from washing is sufficient to get it cooking. Stir frequently and stop cooking as soon as the leaves are limp and of a uniform cooked color. Do not overcook or it will become slimy and leave a metallic aftertaste.

Once I deemed it done, I put some in a bowl and sprinkled it with

• pepitas (or peanuts or pecans or pignolas)
• 1 tsp Bragg’s nutritional yeast

Extremely tasty. Will be repeated. Serving suggestion shown; click photo to enlarge.

Tomorrow, for Other Vegetables, I’ll be cooking some chayote squash with bitter melon, along with suitable aromatics, herbs, and spices.

Written by Leisureguy

9 June 2021 at 4:38 pm

Another day, another walk

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Another look at the palm flowers, and an unfortunate iPhone shade on a pretty flower. The middle picture is a close-up of a park lawn that was covered with those small yellow flowers.

3990 steps, again with Nordic walking poles. Maybe I can keep it up. I have a strong suspicion that to keep my fasting blood glucose below 6.0 mmol/L (108 mg/dL) and ideally around 5.5-5.6 (99-101) diet alone is insufficient (albeit necessary); exercise also will be required. So I’m testing that.

Written by Leisureguy

8 June 2021 at 4:09 pm

A walk with flowers

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I managed to get myself to get out for a walk, and today I used my Nordic walking poles. Not too long a walk — just under 3000 steps — but now that I’ve broken the ice, tomorrow’s walk should be easier. And of course I had to photograph some plants along the way. As before, click on any photo to get a slide show, and right-click on any photo in the slide show to open it in a new tab, where you can enlarge it to peruse the detail.

The flowers in that first photo were tiny, but on a large plant.



I sent a link of this post to The Wife, who returned a photo of some small and interesting flowers she came across. In their natural position, drooping downward, the translucent leaves give them a ectoplasmic hue, so I decided that these flowers must be called “ghostberries,” though of course they are not berries, but merely resemble them. As you can see, the flowers are very small. Click image to enlarge.

Written by Leisureguy

7 June 2021 at 4:12 pm

Exercise and eating right reduces your biological age

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Wikipedia has an extensive article on the topic of biological age, determined by DNA methylation levels. From that article:

In 2010, a new unifying model of aging and the development of complex diseases was proposed, incorporating classical aging theories and epigenetics.[20][21] Horvath and Raj[22] extended this theory, proposing an epigenetic clock theory of aging with the following tenets:

  • Biological aging results as an unintended consequence of both developmental programs and maintenance program, the molecular footprints of which give rise to DNA methylation age estimators.
  • The precise mechanisms linking the innate molecular processes (underlying DNAm age) to the decline in tissue function probably relate to both intracellular changes (leading to a loss of cellular identity) and subtle changes in cell composition, for example, fully functioning somatic stem cells.
  • At the molecular level, DNAm age is a proximal readout of a collection of innate aging processes that conspire with other, independent root causes of ageing to the detriment of tissue function.

More information is found on this page.

DNAm age can be reversed to some degree by a good diet (such as a whole-food plant-based diet) and regular exercise, along with adequate rest and an optimistic outlook. Science Daily has a report of a clinical trial that measured this:

A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted among 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50-72. The 8-week treatment program included diet, sleep, exercise and relaxation guidance, and supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients.

Aging published “Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial” which reported on a randomized controlled clinical trial conducted among 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50-72. The 8-week treatment program included diet, sleep, exercise and relaxation guidance, and supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients.

Genome-wide DNA methylation analysis was conducted on saliva samples using the Illumina Methylation Epic Array and DNAmAge was calculated using the online Horvath DNAmAge clock (also published in Aging).

The diet and lifestyle treatment was associated with a 3.23 years decrease in DNAmAge compared with controls.

DNAmAge of those in the treatment group decreased by an average 1.96 years by the end of the program compared to the same individuals at the beginning with a strong trend towards significance.

This randomized controlled study, published in Aging, suggests that specific diet and lifestyle interventions may reverse Horvath DNAmAge epigenetic aging in healthy adult males.

The study’s lead author, Kara Fitzgerald ND IFMCP, from The Institute for Functional Medicine said, “Advanced age is the largest risk factor for impaired mental and physical function and many non-communicable diseases including cancer, neurodegeneration, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”

Methylation clocks are based on systematic methylation changes with age.

DNAmAge clock specifically demonstrates about 60% of CpG sites losing methylation with age and 40% gaining methylation.

Almost a quarter of the DNAmAge CpG sites are located in glucocorticoid response elements, pointing to a likely relationship between stress and accelerated aging. Cumulative lifetime stress has been shown to be associated with accelerated aging of the methylome.

Other findings include that PTSD contributes to accelerated methylation age; and that greater infant distress is associated with an underdeveloped, younger epigenetic age.

This is to say the authors have tentatively accepted the hypothesis that the methylation pattern from which the DNAmAge clock is computed is a driver of aging, thus they expect that attempting to directly influence the DNA methylome using diet and lifestyle to set back DNAmAge will lead to a healthier, more “youthful” metabolism.

The Fitzgerald Research Team concluded . . .

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Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2021 at 10:40 am

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